BIRTHDAY MACHA’S AND AGNI BHAGAVAN
Karat Tamil songs were blasted so that the whole neighbourhood could hear. The birthday was held outside the house (with beautiful tents built that blocked at least 3 houses) – I am sure they have obtained the permission of their neighbours. Afterall, it’s nice to have a good and understanding neighbour. The birthday boy was…. hhhmmm… somehow well dressed – very western - wearing a coat and full suit. But being a typical Indian fler, he can’t take the India out of him – he was wearing a slipper, and his neck glitters with thick gold necklace, shiny bracelet in his hand, ear-piercing and large earring that could make all the grandmas envious.
Birthday song was sung.
hEpi bert-dEi to yuuuuu! hEpi bert-dEi to yuuuuu! hEpi bert-dEi to (whatever his name is)! Followed by some giggles from the crowd (God knows why). hEpi bert-dEi to yyyuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! Some claps. And more giggles (still don’t know why).
The birthday boy, with his ego now fully polished…. Surrounded by family, maama, macha’s, and consciously aware that there are chicks around him….. raises his chest to show his machoism, and blows the candles (21 candles, mind you!).
Ooopps!! He didn’t manage to blow all of them at first attempt. Blushes seen from the macho macha. He looks at people surrounding him and smiles to cover up his lost pride. And more giggles from the audience (still don’t know why!). He blows the remaining candles again, with ALL HIS MIGHT!! He did it! Phew… saved pride.
Then, as in the “normal Indian tradition”, the birthday boy cuts the cake into small pieces to feed their parents. Small enough, as he is aware that his parents are diabetic. Why feeding the sweet cake to his diabetic parents? Saangiya-tirku (for the sake of tradition), shouts someone on the floor. I had the urge to ask him to cite the reference! (which part of Hinduism he extracted this Saangiyam from). Just because one is a Sheep that follows the rest of the flock of sheeps, does not make a culture! Just because they have seen someone else practices this on their birthday, does not mean we have to follow suit.
So, after feeding the parents, relatives, and family, the rest adjourned for a barbaric fiesta laid outside their home. Sorry to use that word – bad of me!. But I don’t know how to describe this. Let me describe it differently. Animals cut into pieces (and given glamour names – mutton perattal, chicken kurma, udang sweet and sour, fish sambal, chilli crab, among other animals). And served in the mucchanti (edge/middle of the road) where only ghosts and devils dwells. Heh? You don’t believe ghosts dwells at the road in front of your house? Ask the Chinese why they burn hell money outside their home!. Check out vaastu-sastra and feng shui on its significance. So, let me ask you - Are these food catered for your guests, or padayal (offering) for the hungry ghosts?
Lack of knowledge is the root of all evil. And your lack of knowledge on culture and religion is not an excuse, but a SIN. And you, consciously knowing or otherwise, are paying the price of your sins through the various challenges that you face in your life, your family, culture and nation.
Hinduism is a way of life. It’s a culture communicated through symbolism and stories/puranas, so that the message gets across the common people, unless of course, you are curious enough to go deeper into the SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY used in the religion. If you don’t know the subject, LEARN. If you have no time to seek religious education, for heaven sake, at least, Google it!!
Let’s revisit this birthday celebration. I can’t beat the system, I admit. But I am duty-bound to communicate to as many people who are reading this blog on the proper practice.
- 1. Firstly, do realize that, this is a western
culture. Nothing wrong in it. It’s just that, many are not able to decipher
the science behind the Hinduism. And furthermore,
it’s more ‘happening’ to show off our knowledge on western culture.
- 2. In the western culture, blowing a candle denotes
the number of years the person has completed, and to bless that they (the
birthday boy) should live longer.
- 3. But in Hinduism, blowing a candle (or any
fire-related matters) by an air through the mouth is HIGHLY inauspicious.
- 4. AGNI
– is a very powerful medium. He is one
of the Lords of Loka-Paalas. For you to
reach and communicate to Gods, Agni is the medium/channel. He is
the protector of all ceremonies. Be
it whether it’s birthdays, weddings, Homams, etc…, Agni bhagavan is invoked
first, so that the ultimate prayers (of the devotee) can be channeled to the
respective God(s). Look around and
OBSERVE – anywhere there is God - at home in the altar, temple, in meditation, wedding,
birthday, when a child is born, even in death ceremonies, etc… - there will
always be LIGHT (Fire/Agni)!
- 5. He
is the messenger between earth and heaven – commissioned by God and human – to maintain
the communication between these two parties.
And to bring them (the Gods) from the sky to the place of worship (i.e.
in the Homam and altars). Without Agni,
Gods experience no satisfaction in your prayers.
- 6. Prayers
travel through your mind to the Gods (and manifest) through lights (I.e.
Agni). One of the best medium of
getting your prayers answers is via the Nei Villaku (ghee lamp) that you light
in front of your deity in the temple. This
is a TECHNOLOGY given by the ancient
Hindu scientists, for the common people to communicate with Gods easily. Your thoughts (and desires) in your mind gets
directed to the Nature, and manifests in real life, and the ghee as well as the
light (Agni) plays SIGNIFICANT role in your prayers, towards the SUCCESS of
your life. More on this in my later
- 7. Since FIRE is the most significant medium to
communicate with the Gods, all auspicious events begins by invoking this
important act. I.e. lighting up the
Fire. (In the above birthday context,
lighting up the fire via the candles).
- 8. Dousing of fire through blowing off the
light (agni) is only performed in funerals ceremonies, and NEVER in auspicious
ceremonies. This is usually to signify
the release of the soul from the bondage of this earth. Fire symbolizes life, and absence of fire
equals to absence of life (i.e. death).
- 9. So, I feel ODD when people clap when the
birthday boy douses of the candle. I
hope you know where I coming from now.
We are not celebrating death.
I suggest the following.
- Upon lighting up the candle (which denotes
invocation of Fire/Agni), invite the Agni bhagavan through a simple chanting.
- Followed up by Ganapathi mantra
- Followed by your istha devatha mantra (Vishnu, Lakshmi,
- Followed by whatever cultural/religious/family
practice – as long as it does not violate the laws of the nature.
- Do not BLOW the candles. Do not let the air from your mouth douse off
the fire. Take it (the candles) out from
- Cut the cake and enjoy.
- Obtain blessings from parents. Fall on their feet, and get their aasirvaatham
- Now, with the Gods presence in the house to make
YOUR BIRTHDAY more auspicious, sing the birthday song, and followed by Bhajans,
and/or religious songs.
- Serve Vegetarian foods. And serve it IN the house. SERVE your guests. Don’t allow self-service. This is disrespect for the guests. You get punniyams (blessings) by serving
your guests, and not the other way around.
- Serve the neighbours.
- Organize and arrange to serve the old folks,
poor people and disabled people in their Homes. Giving alms and charities.
- Never miss this out – go to temple. Let everyone single-mindedly PRAY for your
longevity, good health, wealth and happiness.
Do archanai and sangkalpam. Don’t
forget the nei-vilakku. Do it with
family members. More thoughts released for
a single purpose (i.e. group prayers) is more powerful.
- 10. All the above leads to PUNIYAMS and good karma to
the birthday boy.
- 11. Think about it – GODs were IN your house during
your birthday celebration. Who else
could be a better VIP than them?
- 12. Would you prefer the Gods to grace your
birthday, or the devils and ghosts waiting for the feasts outside the house?
- 13. Learn, and gain knowledge, before conducting any
events. The significance of the above
practice (Agni) is described in detail in Agni
Purana. Buy the book and read them. Or search and read through Google. Knowledge is power.
- 14. Be a Significant Soul.
The Author, Nehru Nagappan, is from a Corporate background, having served as the Vice-President (Corporate Services) of a local Government-linked Agency. He is also the Hon Secretary of Perumal Temple, Klang (The Tirupathi of South-East Asia), Malaysia. He is also a member of Malaysian Hindu Sangam (Selangor), and Global Hindu Economic Council.